McGregor Scott, an Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe white-collar partner in Sacramento, will be President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California, a post he earlier held in the George W. Bush administration.
Scott served for six years as the top federal prosecutor for the 34-county district, an area that stretches from the Oregon border to Bakersfield. He joined Orrick’s Sacramento office in 2009, where he focuses on white-collar criminal defense and corporate investigations.
Scott could play a key enforcement role in California’s emerging legal cannabis market as many growers in the Eastern District gear up for the state’s recreational market launch in January.
Northern California’s marijuana community was critical of Scott’s Bush-era U.S. Attorney Office for what it said was an overly aggressive stance on prosecuting medical cannabis-related offenses. Scott’s would-be boss, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has staked anti-marijuana positions that are raising fears among industry advocates.
“I’m honored to have been selected for this position and I’m grateful to the president,” Scott said in an email. “I very much look forward to getting back to work with the great people of the U.S. attorney’s office here in the Eastern District of California.”
Scott’s nomination was well-received by Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who said he was vetted by “my bipartisan judicial selection committee.”
“Committee members also spoke with attorneys and judges in the Eastern District and found him to be respected by his peers,” Feinstein said in a statement. “I believe he will serve the Eastern District well.”
Scott, a Republican, was generally well-received by leaders across the political spectrum in California during his tenure as U.S. attorney.
Scott’s office pursued a number of mortgage fraud cases during the financial crisis of 2008, which hit the Central Valley particularly hard. Eastern District prosecutors also secured a $102 million settlement with Union Pacific Railroad Co. over allegations that railroad workers welding tracks sparked a 2000 wildfire that burned 52,000 acres in Northern California forest lands.
His office also made headlines in 2005 with the successful prosecution of Lodi resident Hamid Hayat for providing aid to foreign terrorists and lying about it to the FBI. Defense attorneys continue to allege that Hayat’s confession was coerced and that investigators inflated post-9/11 fears to secure convictions.
While at Orrick, Scott in 2014 won what would ultimately become a $52.9 million jury verdict against Patriot Rail Corp. for his client, Sierra Railroad Co., in a trade secrets misappropriation case. He worked pro bono for Jaycee Lee Dugard, the South Lake Tahoe girl who was kidnapped in 1991 and was rescued from her captor, Phillip Garrido, in 2009. More recently, Scott was retained by the city of Davis to investigate an April brawl involving police and a crowd of people attending an annual UC Davis festival known as Picnic Day.
Orrick released a statement that called Scott’s nomination “a great development for California and for our country. In public service and in private practice, Greg has established himself as a leader of the highest quality and integrity.”
Scott served as the elected district attorney of Shasta County from 1997 to 2003. Before that he was a deputy district attorney in Contra Costa County for eight years.
Phillip Talbert, a long-time prosecutor in the Eastern District, has served as the Eastern District’s U.S. attorney since Benjamin Wagner, appointed by President Barack Obama, left last year to join the Palo Alto office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.